The Difference in Protocols in Your Diabetic Dog

When pups are newly diagnosed, I often hear, “I’m diabetic too, so this isn’t going to be so hard”. Uh oh, time to “unlearn” everything that you know about protocols. The differences between treating human diabetes and treating Canine Diabetes are significant. Many people in the healthcare profession have to really “retool” their thinking and what they know quite well in caring for human diabetic patients when it comes to treating their Diabetic dog. I have had more than one practitioner message me and say, “Holy cow, this is very different from treating my patients!” Yes, in fact, it really is!

Why so different you ask? Good question! If you are a human diabetic or know one, you know that you (or they) have access to the refrigerator, pantry, store or wherever they keep their stash of goodies in case they are feeling a bit off. Also, as a human, you know that you are going to eat, what you’re going to eat and when you are going to eat next. Your dog doesn’t have access to any of those things. He/she can’t just open the fridge and grab some juice if he/she is feeling a bit off, or grab something from the pantry to make an adjustment. They are relying on YOU to make sure that they are safe at all times. YOU are now your dog’s pancreas and you need to take that responsibility seriously.

When a human is running a bit high, they can give themselves a “booster” of insulin. We do not do this for our pups, I repeat; we do NOT do this for our pups. Even if you are home and testing, administering a booster of insulin is a very bad idea! Our goal is to find the ideal dose to work with the food that we feed. Refer back to the blog post about  “The Dance between Food and Insulin” for a refresher on how this all works. We want to get this food/insulin equation set (for now) so that we can make minor adjustments to dial in and get things going smoothly. If you are changing insulin doses frequently, that is never going to happen.

The biggest difference in treating Human and Canine Diabetes is that humans dose on a sliding scale, we don’t do that with our dogs. Humans don’t eat the same meal twice a day; they rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. This is why we must find a food that our pups will eat twice a day, even if we have to change up toppers to make it interesting. We decide on a proper food, amount of that food to maintain ideal weight and adjust our insulin dose to match it. It takes time and patience yes, but it is well worth the time spent to know that our pup will be safe at all times. Better a little high than too low! High numbers while not ideal are safer for your pup than running too low. High numbers are inconvenient, low numbers can be fatal.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a pup started on too high a dose of insulin because their BG (Blood Glucose) number was quite high at diagnosis. A starting insulin dose for our pups is based on weight in Kilos, NOT on how high the glucose reading is. It’s a huge frustration for those of us that are supporting those newly diagnosed pups. We don’t ever chase high numbers, not ever.

If you are a human diabetic or you care for one, please, please, PLEASE don’t treat your dog the same way that you treat yourself. Protocols for Canine Diabetes are very different and you need to understand that right out of the gate. It’s really not so hard once you get a handle on the fundamentals of this disease. We feed the same meal every 12 hours so that we can find and keep a consistent dose of insulin every 12 hours.

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Until next time…